Environmental enrichment does not impact on tumor growth in mice

Jennifer A. Westwood, Phillip K. Darcy, Michael H. Kershaw

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13 Citations (Scopus)


The effect of environmental enrichment (EE) on a variety of physiologic and disease processes has been studied in laboratory mice. During EE, a large group of mice are housed in larger cages than the standard cage and are given toys and equipment, enabling more social contact, and providing a greater surface area per mouse, and a more stimulating environment. Studies have been performed into the effect of EE on neurogenesis, brain injury, cognitive capacity, memory, learning, neuronal pathways, diseases such as Alzheimer's, anxiety, social defeat, emotionality, depression, drug addiction, alopecia, and stereotypies. In the cancer field, three papers have reported effects on mice injected with tumors and housed in enriched environments compared with those housed in standard conditions. One paper reported a significant decrease in tumor growth in mice in EE housing. We attempted to replicate this finding in our animal facility, because the implications of repeating this finding would have profound implications for how we house all our mice in our studies on cancer. We were unable to reproduce the results in the paper in which B16F10 subcutaneous tumors of mice housed in EE conditions were smaller than those of mice housed in standard conditions. The differences in results could have been due to the different growth rate of the B16F10 cultures from the different laboratories, the microbiota of the mice housed in the two animal facilities, variations in noise and handling between the two facilities, food composition, the chemical composition of the cages or the detergents used for cleaning, or a variety of other reasons. EE alone does not appear to consistently result in decreased tumor growth, but other factors would appear to be able to counteract or inhibit the effects of EE on cancer progression.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2-140
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2013

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